“Love is born into every human being; it calls back the halves of our original nature together; it tries to make one out of two and heal the wound of human nature.” –Plato

This morning, I awoke––bleary-eyed and brittle-boned––and Anna’s face came to me, that face and all its changes. I looked around for a moment, reaching for her, but she did not reach back. I turned the lights on, dressed myself and combed my hair, but I could not shake her image from the dark space within my head. It has been almost four years since she left––four years that seem more and more imaginary as the days go on––though this is not a story about those days. This is the story of a teenage cataclysm––of my existence as it used to stand but how it stands no longer––for I would be a stagnant vessel if it were not for the one who moved me.

   We met on a warm September day at the beginning of my seventh-grade year while taking a walk during gym class. The air was sweet like peach nectar.

   “I like your shoes,” said a voice beside me. Looking up towards the voice, my gait staggered as I was met with the loveliest girl I had ever seen. Her beauty was literally astounding. The sides of her upper lip swooped down against her bottom lip like a ripple in the sea and her eyes were like diamond-cut sapphires bathed in sunbeams. I was entranced.

   “Oh, thanks,” I managed to reply, forcing myself out of the hypnotic state she’d put me in. I hadn’t been at that school for more than a week and suddenly it was as if my entire life up until that point had no meaning whatsoever. This purple-haired girl in a flannel and skinny jeans was my Kingdom Come.

   Over the following months I came to know the pretty girl as Anna, a wild force of nature with whom I quickly wished to spend all of my days.

   “Look! A dandelion! I thought they were all gone by now.” She proclaimed with a fairylike whimsy one winter day, plucking it from the dried soil.

   “You better make a wish then,” I suggested as she blew the wispy little thing into oblivion––her movements vicariously uninhibited by the wayward seeds.

   “Oh, I did.”

   “...Well, what was it?”

   “Don’t be dumb. If I tell you, it won’t come true.” She reminded me, skipping ahead to see if there were any more residual weeds. I can still see her now––the sweeping motion of her skirt as she moved, the faded dye in her bleached hair, the hum she constantly carried between her teeth slipping out as she tapped against the concrete. Anna always had this marked propensity to sing, dance, and skip everywhere she went like music was constantly being synthesized in her busy brain. It made her even more beautiful to me, seeing the way she lived life so appreciative of all its wonder. I learned a lot about her just from observation. I noticed that she had a birthmark right below her left shoulder, a habit of rubbing her collarbone when she was distracted, and though she was constantly moving, to me it was all in slow motion, grace and poise pumping through her delicate veins.

   I had always known the way in which Anna loved me went far beyond what is accepted of a close friend. I felt it in the way she looked at me like we had known each other our entire lives. It was innate, really, just as instinctive as the need to drink water or to breathe air. Because of the ambiguity that always lingered between us, I can’t recall exactly when our romance began, though I remember the way it completed me.

   In Greek mythology, there is a story that humans were originally created with four arms, four legs, and two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two equal parts, sentencing them to live the rest of their lives in search of the lost half. Mine and Anna’s souls folded into each other like they had been condemned from doing so for lifetimes upon lifetimes.

   Many days she’d wait for me in the school library where I spent my mornings. I have never felt a purer joy than seeing her there, leaning against the bulletin board with her arms crossed, smiling up when she felt my presence. A treacherous film of permanence began to coat my thoughts. It felt like she’d wait in that library until the books consumed us whole and our bodies became the pages to every happy ending. I began writing about it. I would spend countless hours in that library synthesizing my love into stanzas and when the chance arrived, I’d show my muse what she inspired.

   “What are you writing?” She asked one morning, already knowing the answer.

   “A poem,” I responded truthfully, nevertheless. “Do you wanna read what I’ve got so far?”

   “Sure. Lemme see.”

   I handed her my notebook and she proceeded to read my unfinished villanelle with a concentration I’d never be able to recreate, her lips slowly curling as she processed each line. It was one of my most favorite things to watch.

   “I like it. I like it a lot,” she beamed. Blood rushed to the surface of her skin, pinking her face with gratitude.

   “Also, I wanted to ask you something,” she shook herself from the blushed state. “Do you wanna spend the night next Saturday? Only my mom will be home, and we can pretty much stay in the basement the entire time.” She looked nervous as if it was something she needed to persuade me to do––though it wasn’t, of course.

   “Yeah. I’d love to.”

   The next Saturday––March 30th I believe it was––happened to be the first warm day of the season. When I pulled up to Anna’s house, its fairytale nature struck me. It was this big, beautiful, light-yellow colonial on a lake and the landscaping seemed professionally kept.

   “Neva!” Anna opened the ruby-red front door with a welcoming sunniness to her expression, excited that I was entering her little world. On the inside of the house, I noted windows covering entire walls and newly waxed honey-colored floors in the salon. There were China cabinets filled with bric-a-brac in each corner and bowls of fake fruit on every surface

   “Can’t you tell we’re Italian?” She laughed, remarking on the Tuscan décor enveloping us. As I pulled off my shoes, her mother came downstairs to greet me. The woman’s hair was bleached blonde and freshly blown out and she had large amounts of mascara around her piercing blue eyes––eyes her daughter evidently inherited. I could tell Anna’s mom was older by the way her speckled skin dragged beneath her jawbone, but nevertheless she was stunning––and Anna bore a more than striking resemblance to her.

   “Hi Neva, I’m Robin,” her voice was strong but sweet. “Lilianna, why don’t you go show her around the basement?”

   The interaction we had was short but pleasant and, on the surface, it seemed that Robin Solvato was a kind woman.

   “Your mom seems nice.” I commented once Anna and I had made it to the basement.

   “Yeah. She seems that way.”

   “What do you mean?”

   “Nothing. She is nice. And I love her. It’s just that...” she sighed with brief melancholy. “She doesn’t see me.”

   “In what way?” I was perplexed by Anna’s change in tone. She had never spoken about her mother to me, but I never thought to wonder why.

   “In a lot of ways,” she looked at me defensively but then softened, “Like, in sixth grade when I told her I liked girls, she said I was just confused. I can’t be who I am around her because she shuts down anything that isn’t within her expectations of what a good daughter should be. She still calls me by my full name, didn’t you hear?”

   I had no time to respond before Anna changed the subject, looking as if she regretted bringing it up in the first place.

   “But anyway, what song should I play?” She grabbed her little blue ukulele with the gentleness of an oriole.

   “Play whatever you want. I’ll listen to anything.” I turned on my side to admire her as she strummed––forgetting our previous conversation and tuning in to the concert of a lifetime.

   Though Anna had to have played a dozen songs that evening, the first one she chose was Can’t Help Falling in Love by Elvis Presley. I laid my head against the couch pillows while the melodic lilt of her voice filled the room, nearly lulling me to sleep.

   Wise men say only fools rush in...

   The tendons in her pretty hands lifted as they moved along the fretboard.

   But I can’t help falling in love...

   Moonlight danced on her pale skin, tinting it blue.


   Her voice was smooth as margarine, not faltering one note.

   I photographed her in my mind, staining it with her features for all eternity.

   By the end of the night, once all the song had fled from her body and she was nearly developing carpal tunnel from changing chords, Anna let go of the ukulele and replaced it with my hand, sinking into a state of half-sleep.

   “I wish it could be like this forever,” she sighed. The shadow of ache lingered on her lips as her eyes closed and her grip on my hand softened.

   “Why couldn’t it?” I questioned the negative implication of her words awaiting what I knew would not be an ideal response.

   “Neva, you know I’m going to a different school next year,” her expression looked to pity my optimism. “And we already live far away from each other. I just don’t know how it’d work.”

   “We’ll find a way. An hour drive isn’t much.” It confused me how stupid her excuse was. We both knew it was not something she would ever justify. When Anna realized I didn’t believe her reasoning, I could see a long-lived truth enter her sunken eyes as she spoke of the real cause as to why we were always bound to be doomed––no matter what city, world, or life we shared.

   “If I’m going to be honest, I don’t know how long we can keep this up,” she blurted out with the sharpness of a snake’s tooth. “If my parents ever find out––which they inevitably will–– I don’t know what would happen to me, but I know it would be worse than anything they’ve done before. The world was not made for people like us, you know. Secrets are only secrets for so long.”

   The timbre of her voice was gone. She looked like a little girl––shrunken up small, as if she had just discovered that evil exists. I recall, now, as I write this, the James Baldwin quote: “Nobody can stay in the garden of Eden”. I believe that’s true––as cynical as it is. This transient girl of mine was never meant to be anything more.

   Though I tried to brush it off, the possibility that someday Anna would merely exist to me in memory terrified me. That was the first time I ever wished I had been born a boy. We could’ve grown up and married in southern France, surrounded by poplar trees and a priest who declared our love as holy. We could’ve had a couple kids, watched them grow through the seasons as the lines in our faces only deepened until eventually, we dug deep into the soil. If only I had been born a boy.

   “Anna?” I hesitated for a moment as she opened her eyes, the words scratching at my throat with vehemence, my mind suddenly conscious of our finite time. “No matter what happens––where you go, or who you become––just know I love you.”

   She looked up at me––tucking her hand behind my ear with a soothing smile that can only be described as reminiscent of a crescent moon––her face young but undeniably aging with each passing breath.

   “I know, my girl. I love you too.”

   That night I slept on the opposite end of the sofa, carried by the fear that at any given moment her mother may charge down the basement stairs to whisk me away to some forgotten inferno where I’d burn into nothing. Nobody can stay in the garden of Eden.

   It was late April when Anna and I spent the night together again. She brought me to her beach house in the middle of Cape Cod. Anna was the type of rich girl whose affluence never affected her ego. I appreciated that––the way she made sure to always be richer in kindness than in greed. While her mother drove, Anna held my hand tightly in the backseat of the old Audi A5––keeping it far beneath the rearview mirror as the breeze combed back her short hair. I couldn’t help but notice that she looked like a caged bird longing to be set free.

   Though it was a beach house, we never went down to the water that evening. Instead, I watched like always as she softly plucked the strings of her ukulele within the four white walls of her bedroom. Though we also played games, watched movies, and told stories, my fondest memories of Anna are ones where I was merely a spectator. There was something so real about observing the ways in which she interacted with the world. From her mouth that hung agape whenever she squinted up at the sun to her legs that folded crisscross no matter the seat she inhabited, Anna had this manner of living that was so distinctly her own. Lying beside her as she sang like a magpie on the doorstep of daylight, I remember thinking if I died right then and there, I would have been content. In her profound abilities, she was the antithesis of all that I was, but never was I jealous of it. I never wanted to be her. I just felt so honored to be loved by someone who didn’t need me, but still chose me.

   That night beneath an old, dim lamp I read my poetry aloud to her––which I seldom ever did. The words in those poems were probably the closest one could ever come to expressing the kind of love we shared––the kind of love that sutures up black holes and cures all maladies. It was a hard task to convey the sheer number of things Anna made me feel. There were never enough words for that. Still though, once I reached the end of the poem, she beamed at me with her face all rosy proclaiming, “nobody has ever spoken about me like that”, and it was good enough for me.  

   Though in my eyes she was the envy of everything good in the world, Anna was, I admit, also very sick. She could find dandelions in wintertime and turn any room into a stage, but when it came to who she was, Anna was incapable of finding joy. She told me her self-destruction started when she was in church at seven years old and snuck sips of more communion wine than her little body could handle, consequently becoming very ill. That impulsivity, she said, only grew with age. I quickly realized she was telling the truth when after not responding to me for several days, Anna messaged saying she had been at the hospital getting a psych evaluation because she had run out into the middle of traffic...on purpose.

   “It wasn’t that I wanted to die,” she stated plainly, “It was that I didn’t care to live.”

   Though it angered me that she never stopped to think, all I could do was pity her. Anna was a wild pegasus born into a world of routine and tradition. Nobody could blame her for her self-loathing nor her need to escape the limited world she was living in. I wanted––more than anything––to be able to help Anna, but she was surrounded by impenetrable glass.

   I don’t know what the breaking point was, but at some interval between the beginning and the end, that girl gave up on being true to herself. There was never a moment where she said “We need to stop with whatever is going on between us,” nor an apology for letting me fall in love with her so completely. She suddenly denied her attraction to women––which in retrospect is one of the most destructive things she has ever done to herself and to me.  

   “So, I’ve started talking to this guy. He’s really sweet.” She revealed one May afternoon, acting as if her mouth had never known mine––her tone carrying zero recollection of our past. I sunk into myself further and further with every word she spoke.

   “Oh. That’s nice.” I replied through gritted teeth. My muscles felt calcified, rigor mortis spreading throughout my rotting soul. Nobody can stay in the garden of Eden.

   By the end of the school year Anna had become a stranger. I would reach out, try to grasp onto something, but her uninhibited wings that previously awaited flight had been clipped by the throes of conformity. She had detached herself from me, from everyone. When I looked into her eyes, they were vacant and dark. Any semblance of my sweet girl was nowhere to be found.

Most of my June evenings were spent in the bath, tears gliding down my face and off of my chin like wastewater down the drain. I was thirteen and a half years old––just a little girl, really––and grieving the kind of love no human of any age should ever grieve. It possessed me like a demon. I thought the inferno had caught me at last.

   “I just wanted a real goodbye––an acknowledgement that our love occurred.” I lamented to my therapist who could only respond with various “mhms” and “uh-huhs”. Each day pushed me further away from the greatest thing I had ever known. I started to measure time in “before Anna” and “after Anna”, signifying that the version of me subsequent to her presence in my life was an entirely different being than the preceding one.

   The days started to mold into each other. My misery was so vast and ever-tormenting that I went completely numb. In truth it was probably my body’s only way to survive. I could finally understand what Anna meant by “it wasn’t that I wanted to die. It was that I didn’t care to live”. I would smell her perfume on a woman in the Alewife station, see someone with her haircut, or hear that one Elvis song on the radio and an anger would overtake my mind, leaving me far too aware that I was living as one half of a whole. Zeus had revoked his mercy and in retaliation, I began my eighth-grade year as the cruelest person I have ever been. I developed contempt for everybody, believing all the good had fled from the surface of the earth.

   One of the lowest points occurred while I was spending the night at a friend’s house. I had met Joseph during seventh-grade orientation and was friends with him all throughout my relationship with Anna. I thought he understood me in a way nobody else could. On this particular night, I was feeling the empty space Anna had left more than ever. As my conversations with Joseph grew deeper into the night, I naturally began to talk about her. I told him all about the pain, the love, and the in-betweens––about living as one half of a whole. I didn’t realize until I finally finished speaking that his face looked bewildered––like he pitied me for some reason.

   “I’m so sorry you had to go through all of that,” he laughed awkwardly with a cattiness that soured my stomach, “Anna was a psychotic bitch...you deserved so much better.”

   His comment took me aback, considering I didn’t feel that way at all. Nevertheless, I decided to brush it off as just a passing remark, believing that he had misunderstood the way I wanted to be consoled. Before I could respond, however, Joseph added, “there are plenty of fish in the sea”, as if Anna was just a human being in a world filled with other human beings and not the goddess of dreams that she was to me. For a moment I just stared at him as he yammered on about how I’d find “someone better” one day. The mere notion that “someone better” could even exist lit a fuse I could not snuff out.

   “Would you shut the fuck up?” The rage I wielded echoed throughout the empty house, making Joseph shutter, “You have no idea what it is like to love somebody the way I love her. You have no idea what it is like to lose something as precious as that. You have no fucking idea.”

   I felt ashamed of myself the moment I stopped shouting. Anger was not a feeling I was used to, and I knew Joseph did not deserve to bear it. There was an excruciating silence for a while. Tears began to well up in my eyes as Joseph stared at me like a child seeing a ghost. After what felt like minutes, he finally cleared his throat and responded.

   “She made you into someone else, Neva. You and I both know that.”

   That sentence stung like a thousand knives piercing me all at once. I walked the mile home as quickly as possible, weeping through the backdoor and up to the bathroom where I peeled off my rain-soaked clothes. Enveloped by the beige drear of the dimly lit room, my grief turned to terror as I caught a glimpse of the mirror. The reflection within it was that of a monster. She was gaunt and tired and the most visceral embodiment of loneliness I had ever seen. I now believe one cannot truly know what loneliness is until they cannot recognize their own eyes. I had lost sight of who I was becoming. Though I hated Joseph for what he said that night, beneath all the denial I knew that he was right. Anna had changed me forevermore.

   By and by, time carried on as it is apt to do. Joseph and I grew apart as I clung to Anna’s absence––throwing wishes into the looming crater she left behind, coexisting with the pain. I traveled to new places, and I wrote new poems; I even dated new people. But in my dreams, I’d only see Anna. I’d see her in the stars, in the faces of girls I’d kiss once but never again. I couldn’t seal that crater believing that we were not over. Something in me, something fervid and omniscient knew that there was more. Now I don’t know if I believe in God, but that feeling proved to be nothing short of supernatural when I received a text in February of freshman year sent from a number I knew by heart. The message read:

   Hey Neva, I know it’s been a while, but I was cleaning out my room this morning and look what I found. Do you remember when we did this?

   Attached was a photo of “A+N” carved into the side of a bedframe––something Anna and I had done at her house in Cape Cod that one evening. I stared at the photo for a long time, trying to think of what to say. In my mind I was covered in sweat and dirt, screaming from the top of Salvation Mountain, I do remember it, Anna! I remember it all! How could I ever forget you, my sunshine, my one true love? At last, you have come back for me! At last, we are together again! At last! At last! But in reality, my body had begun to tremble, and I thought I was about to faint. I simply responded with:

   Hey! Of course, I remember! How have you been?

   Over the next year we would talk on and off with each other about our lives. Talking to Anna became so normal that when I received a text from her, I no longer felt like I was witnessing revelations from the mouth God. For the first time, she was nothing above a human. In the beginning, I envied each and every boyfriend she had. I envied that they knew Anna in ways I no longer did––that even with their stupid haircuts and nicotine addictions they could look into her eyes and feel that they were loved so completely. As time went on this no longer bothered me. I began to feel that something was changing within me, but I didn’t yet know what it was.

   It was a balmy June morning when Anna and I saw each other again. She lived in an even bigger house now, one up on a hill with grass greener than lime Jell-O––grand as grand could be. When she came out onto the porch to welcome me, I felt so much older. Three years seemed to have aged us both a decade. She wore a ghostly white sundress made of fine linen. Her hair was now its natural brown color and she had exchanged her glasses for contact lenses. Beneath those lenses, however, remained the same bluely softened eyes I once knew. I was comforted by, as James Baldwin would put it, “that face and all its changes”.

   “It’s been so long,” she wrapped her arms around me in embrace, still seemingly moving in slow-motion the way she always did, “I’ve missed you, Neva”. As I held her close and pressed each of my fingertips against her ribs, I felt like we were young again. Tomorrow I would be back home, and she would still be here, and we would have to continue living as we had been before but today we were together. The warm sun kissed my scalp and allowed me to bathe in what once was.

   Anna brought me inside and gave me a tour of her new home––grand turned out to be an understatement. The ceilings in the foyer were no less than fifteen feet tall and large sheets of marble made checkered patterns across the floor. I peered into offices, billiard rooms, home gyms, and countless other spaces that made the place seem more like a castle than a house. As she walked me through the sunlit kitchen, I noticed how much happier Anna was compared to the last time we spoke. The timbre of her voice was the same one I used to know, and her eyes looked lighter than before. It made me wonder what had changed.

   “Hey, how’s your mom doing, by the way?” I queried, hoping she would realize I really just wanted to know if their relationship had improved at all. I knew it was a bit forward to ask–– after so many years and all––but the soft smile that crossed Anna’s lips relieved me.

   “She’s doing well, actually. We’re both in a really good place. I’ve chosen to live a life free of regret which meant making the decision to forgive her for how she used to treat me.” Her gaze wizened as an air of maturity overcame her, reminding me of how much we’ve changed.

   “That’s admirable, Anna. I’m glad you’re both well.” I realized that sometimes change is good.

   Once the tour concluded, we went for a swim in her pool. Anna was already in the water by the time I finished putting on my suit. The composition of her appearance atop the raft she floated on was almost jarring combined with the way her hair was loosely tied and a jacquard one-piece clung to her slim figure. I laughed, thinking she looked like the wealthiest woman in all of Massachusetts and there I stood in a K-Mart original. I paused abruptly at this thought. “Woman” was never a word I’d used for Anna until then. It felt like we had just recently been girls. Glancing over once more, I tried to see her in any other way, but “woman” was still the only word that came to me. I didn’t know when Anna had become “woman”, or where her girlhood went, but that must’ve meant that I was “woman” now too.

   “You know,” she took my hands as I made my way into the warm water, laying them over hers on the raft, “I sometimes find myself copying your mannerisms and expressions. Even still.”

   I looked down at our hands, distracted by the familiarity of her warmth, then up at her face as my jaw hung loose, processing her words.

   “It’s never on purpose, but the way you hold the sides of your jackets, how your tongue comes up behind your teeth when you smile, the way you dress––it all washes over me almost every single day and I remember.” She added, her seafoam eyes clearer than they’ve ever been.

   I only stared at her, my voice box suddenly mute, my tongue seemingly broken. She noticed by my bewilderment, however, that I wanted her to go on.

   “I’m sorry for leaving us so unfinished.” Nature silenced around us, and her coquettishness was replaced by a dread for the ages, “I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.”

   “It’s okay––” I croaked, the sound returning to me in a moment of panic as the guilt in Anna’s tone churned my stomach.

   “I never stopped liking girls, you know. I just wanted my mom to approve of me at the time,” she interrupted––tears sparkling in her forlorn eyes, “but in trying to get her to do so I failed you. Neva, I’m so sorry.”

   I didn’t know what to say. I was now a woman, and I still didn’t know what to say. In Anna’s eyes I saw her searching for some semblance of forgiveness but to me there was nothing left to forgive.

   “Stop it. We were both so young, you and me. The mistakes we made at thirteen have all since washed away. I promise you never failed me, Anna––not once. You shouldn’t be so hard on yourself.”

   I pulled the weeping woman off the raft and into my arms. Before then I had thought that    meeting Anna again would show me visions of the future, like I saw when we were thirteen, but seeing her now showed me a past that I would no longer need once the day had ended. As the sun began to dip behind the clouds and Anna’s sniffling subsided, I knew she had realized this too. It drew time to go inside.

   I changed back into my dry clothes much quicker than she did, leaving the dressing room and falling back onto her gray bedspread with sun-flushed cheeks and damp hair.

   “Do you still play ukulele?” I asked through the half-opened door as I noticed the instrument at the edge of her cluttered mattress.

   “Rarely. It sorta lives at the foot of my bed now.” Anna’s expression was still haunted by melancholy in the reflection of her bathroom mirror.

   “Do you remember that song you always used to play me?”

   “Of course I do.” She made a face at me through the mirror as if the answer to my question was an obvious one.

   For the sake of what once was, I grabbed the ukulele and began to strum C, then E-minor, then A-minor, beginning the chord progression to what became our swan song.

   “Wise men say...” I stood up, singing with the poise of a banshee but christened by an unmistakable truth that rectified my faltering notes. All other noise stilled.

Anna slowly peered out of the bathroom upon hearing me, still buttoning up her sundress.

   “Only fools rush in...” she sang the melody like Zeus had condemned her from doing so for millennia.

   “But I can’t help...” We sang in unison now, her pretty magpie hum drowning out my ugly crowing. The time that had accumulated under our skin seemed to fly away like dandelion seeds in the wind. We looked thirteen again––carried only by the love we shared.

   “Falling in love...”  



   We both fell back onto her bed giggling like little kids, carelessly letting our wet hair leave spots on the freshly cleaned sheets. It felt like a divine completion––a happy ending we never got to have. The air was bittersweet as I turned my head to admire Anna in the same light I used to––blueness cascading through the window as if by fate. Tomorrow, I would no longer need her, but today I cleaved onto the final breath of our love, honoring the marvelous thing that once united us. It brought me an abundance of peace, existing beside her again. From the freckles on her nose to the curve of her jaw, Anna was still my best girl––for one final moment.

   “What do you want?” Anna laughed, catching my eyes with hers. Instead of looking away, I traced each line in her face––noticing all of the new ones that time had gifted her. The peace I felt permeated throughout our changes like monarch butterflies in springtime. I no longer felt the need to wait up for her. I knew in my soul that this was the end of us and yet we were both going to be just fine.

   And so, for the sake of what once was, I replied: “For you to kiss me.”

   And she did.

   That evening I came home to a quiet house. The summer breeze danced through the curtains with the carefulness of a prima ballerina as the sun sat low in the sky. Facing myself in the bathroom mirror, eyes tired and hair tangled, I gazed at my face newly rouged by the sunbeams. Running the pads of my fingers across my lips, it felt like I was holding a sinking ship, knowing in my heart that Anna had made her final voyage. Soon the taste of her mouth would disappear and someday the memory would become forgotten entirely.

My reflection in that mirror––as old as it had ever been and as young as it ever would be again––stared back at me like a jackrabbit with an arrow through its belly. You could see it in her limpid eyes––the way she knew she could not be saved. I began to weep. Though I felt an overwhelming amount of peace for the closing of mine and Anna’s chapter together, it was a terrifying thought to no longer need her. For years she was my totem. She was the edifice on which I placed all of my dreams, but when the jackrabbit closed her eyes and exhaled one last big breath, I knew I had set myself free.

   That day was the final time my transient girl and I saw each other. I sit here now––nine months since then––and I often wonder if maybe Zeus never actually meant for humans to suffer. I’d like to believe he wanted to teach the halves how to become whole on their own. If that’s the case, I know that he’s succeeded with me.

   Inevitably, there will be days when I am wounded and spent––or maybe even the opposite––and visions of Anna will leave me yearning for things long forgotten in the great abyss of time. I will awake some morning like I awoke today––bleary-eyed and brittle-boned–– and her face will come to me, that face and all its changes. I will reach for her, just for a moment, but when she does not reach back, I will return to the white light of morning. I will get dressed. I will comb my hair. And I will be just fine.